'Makes no sense': Sad new details about 'Chumpy' Pullin tragedy

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Alex Pullin's girlfriend Ellidy Vlug, pictured here leading a tribute to her late boyfriend at Palm Beach.
Alex Pullin's girlfriend Ellidy Vlug leads a tribute to her late boyfriend at Palm Beach. Image: Getty

A neighbour has detailed the devastating series of events that culminated in her telling Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin’s girlfriend that she feared he was in trouble.

The dual world champion snowboarder and Winter Olympics star died while spearfishing along an artificial reef off Palm Beach on the Gold Coast on Wednesday.

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Pullin was dragged from the water unconscious around 10.40am and paramedics spent 45 minutes trying to revive him.

An investigation into his death is underway with a report to be prepared for the coroner.

More details have now emerged of the devastating way Pullin’s girlfriend Ellidy Vlug learned of the tragedy.

Belinda Anderson, a neighbour of Pullin and Vlug, has revealed how she talked to him on the morning of his fateful accident.

“A couple of hours later in a local Facebook group there was a post asking if anyone knows a man in his 30s who was diving at Palm Beach Reef as someone had been found unconscious and not breathing,” Ms Anderson wrote on Instagram.

“I immediately went over to my neighbour’s house and showed his partner (Ms Vlug) the message as I knew he was out there.”

Alex Pullin's father and girlfriend Ellidy Vlug, pictured here paying their respects at Palm Beach.
Alex Pullin's father and girlfriend Ellidy Vlug head out to sea to pay their respects. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Ms Vlug is then believed to have rushed to the beach and witnessed the tragic attempts to save Pullin.

“The world lost an amazing human today who was loved and admired by many,” Ms Anderson wrote.

“Alex Chumpy Pullin passed away doing what he loved. You would never known he had achieved what he had he was so humble, so down to earth, and so selfless.

“He will be missed by so many from all over the world. All our love to El, (dog) Rummi and family … this terrible tragedy makes no sense.”

Girlfriend shattered by Chumpy’s tragic death

Ms Vlug has since opened up about her final words to her beloved boyfriend.

“When he told me he’d decided to go for a dive, I was just like ‘epic, love you, watch out for sharks’,” Ms Vlug told The Daily Mail.

“I always say that.

“He was a family man through and through. Me, and his sister and parents and Rummi were his world. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him.”

Surfers, pictured here paddling out in memory of Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin at Palm Beach.
Surfers paddle out in memory of Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin at Palm Beach. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

On Friday Ms Vlug and dog Rummi returned to the scene of the tragedy, posting a heartbreaking video from the beach.

“Can’t bear to type these words. Chump my baby, rest in paradise,” she wrote alongside a photo of Rummi standing beside flowers placed on the beach.

She also called him a “beautiful man” in a note she left for the media on the front door of the Gold Coast home they bought in 2018.

"Know that Chumpy absolutely loved life and lived life to the full,” she wrote.

“I am eternally grateful that I have lived my life with him and I am deeply saddened that his life has been cut short.”

Investigation underway into Chumpy’s death

Gold Coast District Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said police were trying to determine if Pullin's death was preventable.

“It was an extremely tragic set of circumstances and our hearts go out to Alex's family and friends and loved ones,” he said.

“We had specialist police attend the scene; we had our police dive squad attend that scene.

“We will prepare a report for the coroner in due course and we will engage with the family to keep them up to date.

“We want to determine why it happened, whether there are underlying medical conditions and whether there has been a miscalculation by someone or something.

“And what we want to do is give closure to the family, give the family answers and really important to see there is anything systemic to prevent it from happening again.”

Pullin was the flag-bearer for Australia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Known affectionately as ‘Chumpy’, Pullin won world championship titles in 2011 and 2013, and nine World Cup gold medals.

with AAP